Posted by Sam Fenny - Memes and headline comments by David Icke Posted on 27 July 2023

Africa Will Take Decades to Recover From Lockdowns

The devastating harms of the lockdowns that African countries imposed in response to a contagion that made little impact on the continent’s mortality are still being felt as Africans now face a decade or more of austerity, write Hassoum Ceesay and Toby Green in UnHerd. They focus in on one country, The Gambia, the smallest country on the mainland, to get a closer look at what this means. Here’s an excerpt.

When The Gambia announced its first Covid lockdown in March 2020, the country was already fragile. Following years of President Yahya Jammeh’s dictatorship, the democratic Government installed under President Adama Barrow in 2017 had ushered in an era of hope. There was, for instance, a noticeable drop in Gambian youth’s attempts to cross the Sahara and the Mediterranean to reach Europe. Yet the country’s pandemic response has erased those gains, and also dealt a severe blow to Gambians’ confidence in its newfound democracy.

In March 2020, as many African countries entered lockdown, The Gambia’s main market at Serekunda closed for six weeks, in accordance with WHO advice. Yet late March is when Gambians buy seeds to prepare for planting, in readiness for the rains — and the unilateral closure of markets meant that seeds were widely unavailable. A transport shutdown also meant that, in those rare cases when they did have seeds, people could not take them to their villages for planting. Even when public transport restarted, several weeks later, social distancing requirements meant that buses were only allowed to operate at half capacity. As this was uneconomic, many buses did not run at all.

Meanwhile, anyone who did manage to sow crops then had difficulties in harvesting, since social distancing protocols meant that no more than two people could work a plot at one time, where usually the whole family is involved. When food was finally taken to market, the forced impoverishment of the population meant that few could afford to buy it and much went to waste: the UN estimated on-farm losses of 50% in Africa in 2020.

The aggregated effect of The Gambia’s Covid response was a massive reduction in farming revenue and in available food. In effect, these were policies guaranteed to cause hunger and malnutrition — and to stoke food price inflation through the destruction of stores and harvests. Food inflation quickly grew in 2021, long before the war in Ukraine, and although in The Gambia it declined from 18.7% in December to 17.49% at the end of January 2023, food prices remain much higher than pre-pandemic levels.

At the same time, and as in the rest of the world, the Gambian government threw money at COVID-19. Donor advice on hygiene saw all public institutions forced to buy large plastic vats and gallons of hand wash and disinfectant. This, and the costs of implementing Western biomedical surveillance regimes (such as quarantined hotels, case tracking and surveillance), was paid for by taking on new debts: the Gambian Government deployed a 500 million Dalasi ($10 million) emergency response fund — a vast sum for a country with a GDP per capita of $772. This was financed by a World Bank loan of the same value, and by an IMF loan of $21.3 million.

Meanwhile, Gambian tax revenues fell by half in 2020, owing to the economic shutdown, meaning that debt repayments stacked up even higher. This is money that The Gambia does not have: the country is beset by poverty and malnutrition, with a median age estimated as under 18 years of age and a teacher’s monthly salary of less than £50. It was frequently said by many in the capital Banjul that “we could have fed the country for 10 years for the amount of money that we spent on COVID-19”.

Gambians themselves protested vociferously. Some tried to break into Serekunda market to continue working, and others — when a mask was demanded — asked who would pay for it. But the question remains: why did Gambian politicians implement these scandalous policies? The truth is that creditor pressure from the EU and other Western embassies, from the World Bank and the WHO, made it almost impossible to do anything else. …

All of this could take decades to fix. Austerity has been forced on the country by external creditors and their incessant demands for information and compliance to protocols that, to most Gambians, were useless — and where COVID-19 was far from the greatest health threat they faced. As elsewhere around the world, vast levels of corruption were involved with the effective printing of money that went with the Covid response. Meanwhile, international solidarity collapsed, as Western activists appeared far more concerned by the political landscape in their own countries than by the effect of these policies on African lives — about which many remain reticent to this day.

Read More: Africa Will Take Decades to Recover From Lockdowns

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